I first started growing cannabis way back in 1983. I was definitely “green” back then — in fact, I killed my entire first crop because I didn’t properly ventilate the grow space. But I dedicated myself to learning how to grow and ended up cultivating and transporting millions of dollars’ worth of illegal cannabis over the years.
In 1999, I founded Advanced Nutrients after I’d already started making my own cannabis-specific nutrient formulations. At that time, no other company was marketing hydroponic nutrients to cannabis growers — they were all saying their products were for tomatoes. I’m proud to say that Advanced Nutrients never hid what we were doing — we’ve always been loud and proud for cannabis. Today, we’re the No. 1 cannabis company in the world.
Now, I’m branching out and launching other ventures, like Lacturnus Labs, a $30-million-plus cannabis research and development facility in Los Angeles. Lacturnus will be the first facility of its kind in the US. I’ve also launched BigMike’s Blends, a line of outcome-based pre-rolls.
What inspired you to get into the cannabis business?
Honestly, when I first started growing at 23 years old, it was simply a way to make money. At the time I was running my own lawn fertilizer company, and two of my friends proposed the idea of using my company shop as a grow house. I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit ever since I can remember, so I was all in.
But as I continued to grow and learn about the history of cannabis and its incredible medical benefits–as well as consuming cannabis myself –I realized just how special this plant really is. Since then, it’s become my life’s passion to spread knowledge and dispel the stigma that’s been placed on cannabis over decades of propaganda and misguided policy. My mission is to make cannabis an acceptable and everyday part of healing humanity, and I will not rest until I do so.
How are your offerings different from others in the market?
When it comes to cannabis cultivation, Advanced Nutrients is light years ahead of anyone else in the game. I’ve grown my R & D team to include 25+ Ph.D. botanists, microbiologists, and organic chemists. The University of Mississippi conducted a study that found Advanced Nutrients produced 21 percent more yield than our competitors. They conducted that study using our second-generation products; we’re now on our eighth generation.
With BigMike’s Blends, I’ve taken all the knowledge and research we’ve acquired over the past two decades and focused it on making the best consumer product on the market. I mean, you can probably imagine the quality of the cannabis I consume. Well, BigMike’s Blends is the best of my private reserve that’s been formulated to deliver specific outcomes, like creativity, pain and anxiety relief, energy and focus. In the future, you’re going to see more cannabis products marketed this way, but BigMike’s Blends is on the forefront and will continue to innovate and separate ourselves from the competition.
What was one of the toughest challenges you faced in your business and how did you overcome it?
You know, I’ve faced so many challenges over the years, it’s hard for me to pick a single one: evading the DEA and the US Marshals back in my outlaw growing days; learning to fly a plane so I could scout new grow locations and keep an eye on my crops; standing up to one of the most feared and violent biker gangs in British Columbia — I’ve gone through a lot in the past 35 years!
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions and why is that useful for you?
I’ve developed a pretty good nose for detecting B.S., so trusting my gut is one factor. But I’m also a deep analytical thinker and a lifelong learner. I’ve spent literal millions in the pursuit of knowledge, and not just about cannabis — I’ve taken courses, read books and joined elite mastermind groups to learn marketing, copywriting, sales, behavioral psychology, and everything in between. At the end of the day, though, I know that I’m not an expert at everything, so I surround myself with team members who I respect and trust, and I turn to them for input on decisions in areas that I’m not as versed in.
What’s the best advice you can give to people just starting off in the cannabis industry?
Have a plan, understand your market and the other players involved, and distinguish yourself from the competition. Also, don’t ever stop learning, get complacent, or feel like you know everything there is to know about your industry. This is true of any business.
For the cannabis industry, I can’t stress enough the importance of staying up to date with the latest trends and market projections. We’re in a young, rapidly developing industry that will only keep changing as it matures. I predict that by 2020, the cannabis industry will be bigger than the NFL and by 2030, it will be bigger than the wheat, corn, and soy industries combined. Between now and then, expect there to be some wild developments. Some of them will stick, some of them will fade away as quickly as they appeared.
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Published: July 16, 2018